The European Caper

From:
Dubai International Airport,
The United Arab Emirates.

The First Two Days

This post is considerably longer and more rambling than my previous one, so unless you really need to fill in some time, you may be wise to tap or click the stamp above, to move on to the next, hopefully more thrilling instalment...

I was going to update yesterday's journal entry, but I think I'll just start again. Life was a little all over the place yesterday (literally).

We're at Dubai airport now, waiting for our flight to Frankfurt. The same flight we came in on yesterday has obviously arrived, because the airport is chockas full of Aussies, waiting for their connections (the older ones with hands firmly clutching their baggage, looking suspiciously at all the foreign types, the younger ones apparently too busy taking selfies to notice anyone else).

So, going back to the start, to fill in all the stuff I missed in yesterday's sleep deprived post...

An evening departure from Sydney, meant that we got to spend the day packing and sorting out the house. We were all ready with time to spare, but there was still a slight panic when the driver arrived. All went smoothly though and I had none of the usual "did I leave the something or another, switched on or unlocked?" thoughts, that usually trouble me when I leave the house for an extended period.

We were 15 minutes from home when Eleanor started pointing at buildings and asking if they were the airport (I think she was joking). Fortunately she fell asleep soon after that.

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare, checked-in, sushi for dinner, then took off on schedule at 9:10pm.

I used to walk from home to the airport, but these days it's a 2 hour drive. I used to rush in with minutes to spare, to catch my flight, which had been selected for shortness of duration and cheapness of ticket. This time it's all been about how to get Eleanor through the trip with the minimum of drama, and pretty much the opposite of my old routine.

After much comparison of flight details, I had chosen Emirates because they leave late and get most of the first leg of trip over during the night, with a 14.5 hour flight to Dubai, arriving at 5am their time, but a civilised 11am Sydney time. (Previously I've flown through Bangkok, the plane just stopping to refuel, but they all seem to fly through the day or arrive at 2 in the morning, and I'm not sure how Eleanor would react to being woken at that time.)

The plan seemed to work, with Eleanor staying up far later than usual, but then sleeping through until we were 3 hours out from Dubai. The 2 hours of over-tired-ness at the start and 3 hours of over-the-plane-ness at the end were difficult, but we had a good 9 hours of peace in the middle (and scream and whine as she did at the end, she was far from being the worst child on the plane – funny how someone else's child having a noisy tantrum is actually a relaxing thing, when it allows you to think, at least everyone is staring daggers at that family, not mine).

I've always liked Thai airways for their low cost and great service and meals (although somewhat tired looking aircraft), but Emirates was really swish. My high opinion probably has as much to do with it being a brand new A380 aircraft, as with the carrier though, with the seat width and leg room being vastly superior. It would have been an extremely pleasant place to sit back and watch some movies, if one of my travelling companions hadn't insisted that I have Bing, Dora and the Wiggles on my screen as well as her own.

Dubai airport is very new and very impressive. We had to disembark far from the terminal and were subjected to a very long bus ride (presumably because some of the arrival lounges are still being constructed), but everything else was a dream. Short queues at immigration (possibly just because it was 5am), lofty, airy pavilions with magnificent columns, plenty of friendly workers to offer directions, the car service in place all ready to meet and greet us (as opposed to missing in action, never to be found, as occurred in Thailand, on the only other occasion we've had a driver booked.)

A photo from our trip
The view of Dubai through our extremely dirty hotel window.

As previously mentioned, our hotel was magnificent and super friendly. We had a couple of hours to sort ourselves out, before catching the tail end of the complimentary breakfast service. Timing wise, it was our lunch, but the extensive range of the buffet meant it could have covered any meal. I stuck with muesli and pastries and lots of coffee, but Costanza and Eleanor chose some far more exotic delights.

Back to the room for a little more recovery. Then a short walk outside in the humid 38 degree heat. We should have gone on a tour or visited the famous mall (complete with artificial snow field), but we were too tired. A cup of tea in the dining room, a little more bumming around, then dinner in our room had us done for the day, and asleep as planned by 7:30pm (not that the nominal local time reference was of any relevance to us).

A photo from our trip
Stuffed dates and baklava at the hotel.

Time displacement had us awake an hour before our 3:30am alarm, but that was fine, and we were checked-out with plenty of time to spare. A drive back through the impossibly tall skyscrapers and numerous building sites (covering many, many blocks) and we're back at the shiny new airport, and where I started this overly long post... But, we've moved on now, and are in the air....

We're currently 2 hours along the way to Frankfurt, on a flight path that skirts the length of Iraq and the upper right corner of Syria, because well, why wouldn't you? It's a disturbing old world where I get to sit here typing on my phone, coffee delivered to my seat, my daughter beside me watching The Wiggles, while just below me (39,942 feet below me apparently, and some kilometres away) people are starving, being blown up, tortured and generally facing the worst that humanity can offer. Not that proximity to the tragedy should make it seem any worse, but it kind of does.

To avoid ending on that depressing note, I'll look over at Eleanor's screen, to watch Anthony Wiggle jumping around happily in his blue outfit. When I saw him on stage some 30 years ago with his fellow Cockroaches, the phrase "don't give up your day job" probably came to mind. Now he's what? The brains behind one of Australia's most financially successful bands ever? Good on him! Eleanor's singing along happily, and I'm happy to think that hard work and good luck can really work out sometimes (even if the journey from the Cockroaches to The Wiggles, presumably wasn't what he was expecting either).

Anyway, before I stray even further from the intended theme of this website (although, I guess the above two asides were about journeys also), I'll sign off.

Only three hours until Frankfurt now. My time successful occupied, and Eleanor in a surprisingly contented and settled mood.

Cheers,

Alistair